I have had the good fortune to see two French films.
Putting aside that I’ve wanted to see them both for some time and though it was mostly to relax, it was also to see what I may be up against in the future.
Here are my thoughts on both, for my records and for your challenge to respond if you’ve seen them.
Gainsbourg [Vie Heroique.]
Much like its hero – & it knows all the implications that that word has – it is an adventurous tragedy.
It entertains and is beautiful, magic [in the fantastic] but it is too dense as a film – too much like the hero, with too many elements to fit into one film.
Let me see two films of Vie Heroique. Then I will be fully sated with this filmmaker and his subject.
As it stands, the film is brilliant and brave but too quick for all my tastes: I enjoyed it very much, I just want more.
More empathy, especially. I know that the filmmaker will say that Gainsbiurg is not always a character we can empathise with – after all, he is a hero and heroes are awe-full beings – however he is so likeable that I wanted to feel his tragedies with longer pauses and not be wisked off to his next adventure just yet.
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
I feel as though someone who has been funding this film has a great passion for the subject; as if the producer or exec producer is a descendant of either of our protagonists – and they both definitely are protagonists because thankfully neither is ever set up as an antagonist – or perhaps the producer is married to one of the people financing it: it is so rich in depth, character, excellent cinematography and just what’s on the screen that if it were a more popular subject and in English, the Oscars would crowd around this like Deptford mosquitoes to me on humid nights.
Every element is graceful but for those that can not be so – Stravinsky on a blind drunk is something I thought I’d never see represented and I am glad I have.
It is elegant and chic compositionally, stylistically and (of course, considering one of its subjects) in colour. Watch out for the excellent bedroom scenes where black and white facades make deco city scapes of the room and giants of our lovers.
In writing this review, I have convinced myself otherwise of a sentence I wrote immediately after viewing that began ‘Don’t get me wrong, for all my hyperbole the film is not perfect…’. I was going to say that it may be too rich for some, like tockay or port but it is not – proven to me because I didn’t feel a minute of it pass where I wasn’t engaged or wanting for more.
It is an adult film – not in the old porn sense but made of the emotional and moral maturity of adults, handled elegantly well and effectingly subtle.
It is as close to perfect as a film can be.
My thoughts on them in comparison
I think that to enjoy both films fully, we need to view them through two very different paradigms: anarchism and phenomenology, respectively to their order on this page.
Much like Serge declares his rebel status, Gainsbourg [Vie Heroique] is a quickfire film with blasts in every sense, little resolution and a feeling of continuation of a behavioural trait whereas Coco Chanel & Igor Stavinsky, due to the usage of exta-diagetic pattern on screen and much sensual talk of getting the feeling of things under the fingers, there is a sensuality that compounds to a somatic ‘corporeality’, if you will, and much like the body, it ends with a linear resolution.
Both are excellent but, like their gastronomical traditions, both should be taken with a different aperitif-philosophy to suit the film.